Community Health Systems Resource Group

Health Status of Immigrants

Determining the health status of immigrant and refugee children and youth

Canada admits between 200,000 and 250,000 new immigrants every year. Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 are below the age of 15. Twenty-five per cent of these newcomer children arrive as government or privately sponsored refugees.

Despite the importance placed on successful resettlement and social integration, very little is known about the health status and developmental trajectories of our immigrant and refugee children and youth, or about the various personal and social factors which support success or militate against failure.

Dr. Anneke Rummens is Co-Principal Investigator and Toronto Site Leader of the New Canadian Children and Youth Study (NCCYS), a national, two-wave longitudinal survey of examines the health, adaptation and development of more than 4,200 pre-school and pre-adolescent immigrant and refugee children across Canada. The national sample includes children aged four to six and 11 to 14 from 17 different ethnocultural communities – Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Filipino, Haitian, Lebanese, Ethiopian, Somali, Polish, Serbian, Jamaican, Kurdish, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, El Salvadorian, Afghani, Iranian and Indian – living in Montreal, Toronto, the Prairies (Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg), and Vancouver.

The NCCYS investigates the physical and mental health status, psychosocial functioning, resettlement adaptation and developmental challenges of immigrant and refugee children in Canada. It also seeks to describe the formation of personal identity among newcomer children, to determine the effects of visible minority status on social integration, development and psychological well-being, to explore the respective effects of the like-ethnic community and the larger receiving society on children’s successful adaptation, and to examine whether region/city of residence conditions the effects of resettlement.

Project research findings will be compared with the results of the federal government's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), an investigation of the health and development of 25,000 mostly native-born children.

The NCCYS is a joint initiative of the Metropolis Project, a national consortium of university-based research centres dedicated to policy and practice relevant research on the topic of immigration and settlement. The research team is comprised of close to 40 researchers from different disciplines based at seven universities across Canada, working in direct partnership with representatives from each of the targeted communities.

The NCCYS will help inform Canada’s resettlement policy as well as a more truly inclusive national children’s agenda. Its goal is to contribute much needed information that will help ensure that programs and policies are fully responsive to the needs and aspirations of all new Canadian children and their families.

For more information, please contact Dr. Anneke Rummens 416-813-7654 x201986